Just yesterday I was talking with a friend about the evils of sugar. Just yesterday I agreed with her that the only rational choice is to limit sugar or even to avoid it altogether. I talked about the month a few years ago when I went sugar-free; I remembered that I felt really good by the end, though it was hard in the middle. We commiserated about our children’s sugar habits. Really, we said, when it comes down to it, we should be setting a better example.
So it’s just as well that no one is in the kitchen right now as the gooey insides of a warm butter tart drip down my fingers and into my mouth. My eyes shift to the right: no kids. I scrape my teeth across the cupcake liner to get the last caramelized bits from the edges then quickly crumple the evidence and throw it in the compost. No one needs to know about this.
I’m home today, playing hooky with my older child. Well, I say we’re “playing hooky” but the truth is that I’m not calling it hooky, I’m calling it rest because we both needed a break. Pandemic school is tough, and we’re practicing being kind to ourselves when we need it, so when he asked if we could extend the weekend by a day, I said yes. This morning while he slept in and read in bed, I took a walk, went to the library, and sent a few emails. When my almost-teenager, still wrapped in a blanket, wandered into the kitchen around 11 and asked if we could bake something, I delighted in the opportunity to say yes.
We thumbed through a cookbook, and he chose butter tarts. Before I moved to Canada, I had never heard of these, but the idea is simple: they are tiny pecan pies, usually minus the pecans. Traditionally they are made with a flaky pastry crust, but we opted for a simpler pâte brisée. Easy peasy. Then the filling: a cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of melted butter and one egg. That’s it – I mean, you can make it more complicated and some people add raisins or pecans or (shudder) chocolate chips, but we went for the classic. We whisked the ingredients together and spooned them into our crust-lined mini-muffin tins. Mere minutes later, we had butter tarts.
They needed some time to cool and set, so my 12-year-old co-chef went upstairs to play video games while he waited. And I can hardly be blamed if some of the filling had oozed out of its shell, onto my fingers and into my mouth. I sigh, and realize that I won’t be giving up sugar until the sweet days of baking with my boy have passed.